astrophotography

21
Jun

Southern Cross and 'The Pointers'

Although I already have an automated observatory for deep sky imaging, with some time and inspiration in isolation in early 2020, I setup my smaller equatorial mount in my 'darky sky' backyard for some widefield imaging with a QHY367C CMOS camera and a Canon 85mm lens, to capture this stunninng view of this region of sky, inspired as I have been for the last 25+ years by Akira Fujii's own famous image of this iconic constellation. In total, I captured 20 hours of exposure across three panes of the mosaic, including additional frames to capture the red nebula through a hydrogen-alpha filter and multiple layers of blurred stars through soft effect filters.

Southern Cross and 'The Pointers', captured by Phil Hart in April/May 2020
QHY367C camera and Canon 85mm lens at f5.6, 20 hours total exposure

Eclipsed! is my first significant solo exhibition, which features images from five of my local eclipse chasing efforts and large format prints of the stunning results I captured at the Great American Eclipse in August 2017.

Following my review of the Star Adventurer, Skywatcher have now introduced a "mini" version of their astrophotography and timelapse platform in a smaller and app controlled version. This review describes my first month using 'SAM', which proves to be very easy to learn and use. Control via the Skywatcher app is intuitive and effective, the mount itself is very compact and it delivers impressive tracking performance for its size. In short there's a lot to like. Read the full review below.

First light with my observatory just barely functioning in April 2016.

Rival to Mars
Mars and its Rival Antares and the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex
CDS-5D, Canon 200mm lens, 110 * 2mins , ISO800.

07
Apr

Skywatcher Star Adventurer: Review

Skywatcher were not the first to offer portable tracking mounts but the Star Adventurer unit is a very capable and complete package. It is heavier but also has a more substantial payload than the competing options and it did feel much more comfortable supporting my full frame Canon camera and 200mm lens. Once you go beyond wide angle lenses, tracking accuracy still limits you to quite short exposures but a lot can be achieved with this portable 'track and stack' approach. The combination of flexible tracking rates, quality built-in polar scope and latitude base plus the suitability for timelapse should make this quite an attractive option.

01
Jan

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

What a ripper of a comet! Another Christmas special discovered by Australian comet hunter Terry Lovejoy. In the days after Christmas I enjoyed a several late nights photographing this comet and its beautiful tail. So much fun but so much data my computer was grinding to a halt!

29th December

2014-12-29 1450 UTTakahashi Epsilon 160 530mm f3.3CDS-5D (Central DS modified Canon 5D Mark III)A sequence of five exposures of 2 mins each at ISO2500 was used to create this image, using Adobe Lightroom, After Effects and PixInsight.
2014-12-29 1450 UT
Click to view larger size on SmugMug

I've used a few modified Canon DSLR cameras over the years for my astrophotography, including an Astro40D from Central DS which I used for many years of widefield astrophotography including one of my favourite ever images of the Southern Cross region.

With a new home (at least part-time) under dark skies I decided it was time for an upgrade and took the plunge with the CDS-5D (see disclosure below). This is my review of the camera, which will be updated with more tests and images.


CDS-5D with Pentax 300mm lens
Single 5 minute sub-exposure, f5.6, ISO800
15
Apr

Lunar Eclipse at Maryborough Station

With this lunar eclipse starting low in the sky, I decided to try and capture an image sequence of the partial phases showing the type of photography that can be done with simple gear and 'night sky photography' techniques. After some on-line and on-ground scouting around my new home territory in central Victoria, I settled on the grand old Maryborough Railway Station as my location, which *just* allowed me the sight lines on the eclipse I needed, or at least so I thought from Google Earth and Streetview.

Partial Phases of Lunar Eclipse over Maryborough Station Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm lens at 82mm Nine exposures of the Moon each 1/90 sec, f/8, ISO200 stacked (using lighten blending mode) with one 2 second exposure of foreground.

Execution went mostly to plan and this result is close to what I had in mind, except that the car park and grounds at the station had been significantly reworked since Google Earth/Streetview was last there so that threw out my planning a little. I was using a tall ladder to gain a little extra clearance over the roof of the station, hoping to pick up an image of the Moon at the end of totality, but my compass alignment wasn't quite accurate enough and so that happened behind the clock tower. Still I wanted the action to be close to the tower and the centre of the frame so I'm happy with how this worked out. I have several other versions of the foreground during twilight to experiment with as well.

22
Oct

Light Pollution - An Unnecessary Evil


Light Pollution over Melbourne as seen from Kinglake

Light Pollution is an unnecessary evil, a sad result of poor lighting design.

Light Pollution:

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